Lloyds Bank bank has predicted that visits to its UK branch counters will halve over the next three years after the closure of 200 high street locations.
The bank on Tuesday unveiled a 3 year cost-cutting plan that will see 9,000 job losses and its branch estate reduced by 6 percent as it unveiled a 35 percent rise in operating profits and set aside another £900m related to PPI mis-selling. However, it said customers would benefit from an increase in digital services and committed to shutting branches at a slower rate than its rivals.
By the end of 2017, the bank said, half of the transactions carried out over branch counters today will be handled digitally or via self-service terminals. It plans to develop new technology that will mean mortgages being approved in seven days, rather than 25, and business clients being signed up in a week instead of six.
Lloyds Bank bank, which is 25 percent owned by the UK taxpayer, had pledged not to cut branches until the end of this year but has seen banking through digital channels increase dramatically, and, like its peers, now plans to reduce its estate. It will close 200 over the next 3 years, largely in urban areas where it has more than one branch in close proximity, although it also plans to open 50, particularly in Scotland and the South East of England.
The net loss of 150 branches equates to around 6 percent of its total branch network, the largest in the UK. “We want to be as lean and as mean as possible,” said Antonio Horta-Osorio, the bank’s chief executive, who said the three-year plan would also mean an extra £32bn of new lending into the economy, largely in mortgages. “Branches will continue to play an important role but we are seeing changes in what customers want.”
Some of the job losses – just over 10 percent of the bank’s workforce – will be in branches, although many will be in back office and telephone support roles. Lloyds Bank responded to criticism from unions by saying it would try to limit compulsory lay off’s by moving staff into new roles.